5 Ways to Enhance Your Life This Month // March

Here is my new segment where I give some friendly suggestions based on what I have been enjoying or experimenting with lately that can enhance your life!

Let’s get started.

1. Essential Oils 

I have been learning so much about essential oils this month as I just got a job as a content writer for Lica Cole, an organic skin and body care company. While the brand is in the midst of relaunching their product line and website, I was assigned a research project on rare and essential oils. Lica Cole uses them in all their products and we needed the information available to our customers.

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I had little to no knowledge of the MASSIVE benefits of essential oils! For thousands of years, these oils have enhanced lives offering a variety of benefits from cosmetic and dietary purposes to spiritual and religious use. This ancient tradition can enhance your emotional, physical, and spiritual wellness in extremely beneficial ways.

From ailments of the skin like acne, rosacea and hormonal imbalances, to digestive issues, anxiety and nervous system health, essential oils can be used in complex blends or individually on their own.

I have since ordered a diffuser and few oils to try out. I will be writing a future blog post giving you my review once I experience these benefits for myself.

2. Peppermint Green Tea 

This has been my favorite tea this month. I love green tea and the antioxidants and health benefit its contains. But with this blend of peppermint…it really is the highlight of my morning. If you are like me and stay away from coffee or caffeine, this is a great morning beverage to give you the energy boost you need. I am currently drinking Traditional Medicinals organic blend.

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3. Washi Tape 

Okay, this may seem trivial but that is because you haven’t tried it yet. Washi tape is not simply patterned masking tape as some of you may assume. It is actually made from natural fibers, like bamboo and hemp, or the bark of trees native to Japan, like the mulberry, mitsumata shrub or the gampi tree. Made to customize or decorate anything you so desire, I bought a few rolls off etsy.com to adorn the boring and standard white pages of my list making and planning journal. My boyfriend made fun of me for being so excited about stickers but washi tape is amazing!

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It can turn any blank page into an aesthetically pleasing one. And if you are like me, that is important. I want my lists to not only contain brilliant ideas but also look beautiful too. And washi tape is not expensive. I purchased three rolls which shipped from Japan for about $9.

4. Poetry 

Reading is good for the soul, the brain and for entertaining yourself. I could go on and on but I want to keep this post fairly short.

As much as I love reading and do so often, I don’t read a lot of poetry. However, I finally read Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur and it instilled in me the beauty of this genre and how much I need it in my life. I got a collection of women’s poetry from the library in an attempt to incorporate this more regularly in my life. I am challenging you to enjoy it with me this month 🙂

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5. Eliminate the Word “fine” from your Vocabulary 

I am obsessed with the website Words of Women. It ceases to fill me with inspiration, courage, and motivation everytime I check it. (And I check it daily).

In their most recent post “The One Word That’s Keeping You From Your Dream Life,” CNN commentator, television host, life coach, motivational speaker and author, Melanie Robbins give her advice on why you aren’t achieving the success you so desire.  It all comes down to one word: FINE.

The bigger issue with ‘fine’ is that you say it to yourself. That thing you want, you convinced yourself you’re fine not having it. That’s why you’re not pushing yourself. All day long you have ideas that could change your life and what do you do with them? Nothing. Because you’re fine. You’re fine in your bed, you’re fine in your job. You’re fine with not having everything you ever wanted.

This inspired me in so many ways because it is so easy to become complacent and convince yourself that you are where you want to me. I always strive to be a better version of myself and I want to continue to challenge myself daily. I think we can all do without the word “fine” in our vocabulary 🙂

Click here to read the entire article which also includes Robbin’s TED Talk, which I highly recommend watching.

I hope you enjoyed this post! Let me know in the comments if you are interested in trying any of these out for the month of March!

 

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My Tips for Vegan Eating

A lot of people assume that this lifestyle is difficult and expensive. But that has not been my experience. After a few months of practice and changing the way I view my meals, I have found eating a plant based diet to not only saves me money but is also very simple.

Here are my tips on how to make a vegan diet work for you, no matter your income or lifestyle.

1. Decide What Kind of Vegan You Are

There are SO many different ways to be vegan: Raw vegan, 80/10/10, Raw before 4, High Carb, Low Carb, More Fruit based, More Veggie based…you get the idea. By researching and choosing what will be best for your body, you can become organized with your food shopping. However, be careful. Sometimes the research can be overwhelming. Remember that everyone’s body is different. You might need to experiment for a few months with different diets to see which one your body responses to the best. But knowing your goal is an important part of this lifestyle.

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2. Make a List 

This may seem obvious but it helps me. There are so many amazing vegan substitutes out there and the choices can easily cause you to veer off your budget. After you decide what kinds of foods you want to be buying, write them down and stick to the list.

3. Shop at Multiple Grocery Stores 

Whole Foods is wonderful and all, but I can’t afford to do all my grocery shopping there. Trader Joe’s is also wonderful, but they don’t always have everything I want. Don’t get discouraged. Set aside an hour or two for your weekly shopping and visit more than one grocery store. Again, this takes practice. When my boyfriend and I first moved to California, we solely shopped at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods because we thought these were the only places that stocked our vegan necessities. Later we discovered Sprouts, which had all the brands of Whole Foods for half the prices, and a grocery discount store that had organic frozen fruit and pea protein meatballs for a fraction of the price at the other stores. Yes, this will take up more of your time, but it will save you money in the end. Plus, our health and well being is worth putting effort into.

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4. Plan Your Meals Around Your Veggies

Most of us are use to our dinner plate containing meat as the main course, potatoes or pasta (probably with cheese or a creamy sauce) as the side and some veggies are thrown in. With this picture in mind, most will be at a loss as to what a vegan meal should look like. What I like to do, is plan my meal around what vegetable I want to have. For example, if I have zucchini and spinach in the fridge, I will sautee these together with some garlic. Then I plan the rest of the meal off these flavors. Maybe I’ll make some rice with soy sauce. Or sweet potatoes and beans. For me, getting my greens in as much as I can is important to me. So if I base my whole meal around this, I can be sure I’m getting the nutrients I need AND I can plan a solid meal.

5. “Throw Together” Meals Are Your Friend 

If you are on a budget, this idea works really well. Say it is coming close to the end of the week and you will need to go grocery shopping again. But you still have some veggies and other items that you need to eat first. Well, take whatever you have left and throw it together. This started off as a joke between my boyfriend and I because he is one of those people who mix all the contents of his place together and eats it this way. (Where I usually eat each food separately). He convinced me that we had plenty of food left in the house for dinner because we could make everything we had left together. We have made some pretty delicious and unexpected meals this way.

Here is an example of one of these “throw together” meals.

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We didn’t have enough noodles to make a large portion for both of us and our zucchinis were about to go bad. I topped them off with the leftover tofu and baked some sliced sweet potatoes because they are my favorite.

6. Food Isn’t Everything

It has taken me a long time to accept this. I love eating and I love food and I have been known to get irritated if my meals are not the way I think they should be. But once I realized that I am eating for my health and wellbeing, this idea helped me mellow out about food and allowed me to enjoy what I had and what I could afford to buy. If you are feeling overwhelmed by the thought of switching to veganism, take this notion into mind. Yes, food is delicious and necessary, but we don’t need to be a slave to it. In most other cultures, they don’t have much of a choice when it comes to their meals. They eat a lot of the same things every day. It is we Americans who demand something new and exciting everytime we want to eat. Reject this and be grateful for what you can have. Eat to nourish and take care of your body.

I hope you found these tips helpful! I would love to hear what works for you. Comment below with any thoughts or suggestions 🙂

 

What To Do When You Aren’t Feeling Productive

Let’s face it. There is a lot of pressure on us to be productive. Time is wasted time unless you are creating, making money or working towards a goal. The act of relaxation is very rarely given to us as an option of how to spend our day. We can only relax after we have produced.

Don’t get me wrong. I thrive off productivity. I make lists and plans and try to accomplish as much as I can in a given day. But every once and awhile, I stop. I don’t want to write anymore or plan or work. I just want to be and not feel guilty about it just being.

There are moments when that is just my lazy side talking and I push through. But sometimes, I feel like I’m in a kind of funk, one I can’t seem to find my way out of. In those moments, I know I need to take a moment for myself.

We are not machines. Our bodies and our minds need time to recuperate if they are going to allow us to produce anything worthwhile. IT’S OKAY TO RELAX.

Here are a few of the things I do when I know I need a break in order to continue creating:

1. Drink Tea

Yes, this is my solution to most things. But I just love tea! I love the act of filling the teapot, waiting for it to sing, dunking the tea bag into my steaming mug and breathing in the warm herbal flavors. It has become my ultimate ritual for comfort and continues to revive or relax me.

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2. Take a Hot Shower or Bath 

I miss living with my mom and having a giant tub to sink into after a bad day. But, lately, I have been making due with a hot shower. I actually came up with the idea for this post while in the shower after an afternoon of sluggish writing. I’m telling you, this works.

Water is rejuvenating. Let it wash over. Take your time and feel the water on your skin. Let it warm you and wash away negativity and thoughts of failure. Let it warm you to your core.

3. Make a Face or Hair Mask 

After I am refreshed from my shower, I like to continue this level of relaxation and cleanliness by applying a face or hair mask. Since both of these require time, they aren’t something I do every day. This little act of pampering helps me settle deeper into relaxing mode so my mind and body can rest before returning to my task.

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My sister got me this mask for Christmas by Lush and I absolutely love it. Made with all natural ingredients like peppermint oil, evening primrose seed, and honey (yes, not completely vegan, unfortunately), this mask both exfoliates and calms the skin. I highly recommend!

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4. Get Some Fresh Air

Go for a walk. Get out of your house or the place you work. Breath in deeply. This doesn’t seize to revitalize me when I’m in a creative slump. We humans do not get as much time in nature as we were intended to. Make sure you are taking a moment each day to notice your surroundings. Whether it’s the grass growing in your front lawn before you get into your car, the feel of the breeze on your face as you walk into the office, or the warmth of the sun on your skin during your lunch break. Take time to acknowledge these moments and call them to mind when you can’t get outside. Nature is meant to nourish our souls.

5. Move Your Body 

So many of us have desk jobs or use the computer to create. We sit a lot of the time. Moving my body is a surefire way to loosen the tension in my back and get the blood flowing to my brain. If I am working at home, a lot of times I will do lunches and squats around the apartment, or push ups on the carpet.  Keep in touch with your body and listen to what it needs.

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6. Listen to Music 

I don’t really need to explain this in detail. But blasting a good song or two is one of my favorite ways to get out of my head and live in the moment. Music is such a gift. Its energy is infectious and a creation of its own. It is an inspiration to keep you creating.

Let me know what tips work for you in the comments! Like and share if you enjoyed this post 🙂

What I Would Eat If I Were a Vegan Hobbit

This is probably the nerdiest post I have created. When the idea came to me, I entertained it for a moment but then laughed off its potential silliness. However, I recently rewatched ALL three movies (extended of course) with my boyfriend last week and was re-immersed into the beauty of my all time favorite film. Even though I have watched these movies more than I could ever count, for some reason, this time felt like the first. And now I’m all obsessed and wanting to talk about it all over again. Despite the fact that the film just celebrated its 15-year anniversary, which made me feel strange and old, I wish Lord of the Rings was relevant again.

So here is my funny attempt at bringing hobbits into 2017.

As you may know, hobbits eat 7 times a day. For some that may seem like a lot of food. For me, I think that’s a pretty great life.

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Here is what I would eat in a day if I was a vegan hobbit:

Breakfast: Strawberries and Cream Smoothie

I love to start my day off with a smoothie and I think the hobbits would too if they had access to electricity and a blender.

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For this smoothie, simply blend:

Frozen Strawberries

One Frozen Banana

A Scoop of Vegan Vanilla Protein powder

Almond Milk

A splash of vanilla extract

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Second Breakfast: Oatmeal

I suspect that hobbits loved porridge so here is my take on a hot second breakfast.

I love mixing cinnamon, a little agave, and apples into my oatmeal before topping it off with a little almond milk. Unfortunately for this picture, I was out fo almond milk so I opted for some slices dates instead. (Definitely prefer with any non-dairy milk, however).

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Elvensies: Tomatoes and Avocado

Time for a snack! My go to is one avocado and a tomato sprinkled with a little salt and pepper. Given a hobbits love for gardening, I think they would approve of this.

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Lunch: Salad (Nothing Fancy)

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I am pretending that all these veggie came out of Sam’s garden.

Afternoon Tea: Apples and Peanut Butter with Tea

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As much as I would love to be grazing on tea sandwiches and cakes, this afternoon snack is better suited to my lifestyle. And I’m pretty sure hobbits had apple trees in their backyards…right?

Dinner: Seasoned Potatoes with Siracha Mayo Dipping Sauce

I am simply obsessed with potatoes. They have such diversity (you can boil them, mashed them, stick them in a stew perhaps) they are a great way to start out my evening of eating.

First, slice the potatoes into “chips.” Then place them in a container or Tupperware with a lid. Drizzle olive oil and seasoning. I like to use this seasoning mix, which includes spices like onion powder, garlic, basil, thyme, oregano, pepper, and parsley.

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I also sprinkle paprika for some kick. Once this is down, cover with the lid and shake so all the potatoes are nicely coated.

Baked on a cookie sheet for about 15 minutes, on each side at 400 degrees.

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For the dipping sauce, I simply mixed vegan mayo, siracha, and mustard. So GOOD.

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Supper: Mushroom and Veggie Rice

I wanted to incorporate some earthy flavors for my hobbit recipes and mushrooms seemed like a good fit. Also, hobbit LOVE mushrooms.

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This is barely even a recipe as it is so simple. But is my go to dinner.

Start by sauteeing zucchini, chopped garlic and mushrooms in a pan that is lightly lined with olive oil. I saute the zucchini first, as they take longer to soften than the other ingredients.

While these veggies are cooking, put on a pot of rice.

I added spinach right before serving to get a good dose of protein. Add some salt and pepper or if you want to trail from these hobbit recipes a bit, sprinkle some soy sauce on top as well. I had originally made this meal with sweet potatoes, which you could substitute if you don’t like what I had for dinner above.

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Be sure to finish your day off with some weed or a mug of ale in true hobbit fashion.

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I hope this post both encouraged you and reminded you how awesome life would be as a hobbit.

 

One Month Off Social Media: Here Is What Happened

The moment you have all been waiting for! THE VERDICT

If you are new to my site, you can read why I decided to take this social media break here.

So something happened this past month, that I did not intend…

I didn’t miss social media at all.

For years, I have gone back and forth, deciding if I should delete Facebook and Instagram. I don’t use it very often, unless in dire moments of boredom (or promoting this blog). What kept holding me back from deactivating them was this idea that I would be missing out on something. I would be the odd one out. For me, that was a good enough reason to keep it.

But after this little social media detox, I realized I could have deleted Facebook years ago and it would have in no way interfered with my life.

Now, this post is not intended to bash social media platforms. I find them fun, informative and interesting in a lot of ways. What I find distasteful is the amount of time I spent on each platform. I used Instagram as a distraction, Youtube as a time waster and Facebook as a form of procrastination.

Now, what did I do with all this extra time in January?

I read 4 books.

I started writing again.

I created a notebook full of ideas for future posts and projects.

But I noticed something particularly important. After about three weeks in, I realized how clear headed I felt. I had been reading more, yes. And finding other ways to spend my time. But I was doing so fully present. Fully engaged. I wasn’t conscious of how I was going to present each moment with the rest of the world through social media.

This month, I had a sudden burst of creativity. I was inspired, full of positivity that I could create the things I wanted to. I felt confident in myself and in my abilities.

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At first, when I felt the urge to pick up my phone and realized there wasn’t anything there to look at, I felt a strange level of stress. It probably equates to the feeling a smoker would have once quitting cigarettes. I didn’t know what to do with my hands.

I, instead, picked up the book I was reading, even if I only had time to read a page or two.

Or I stood still.

This concept has become a complicated one in our society. Stillness. We don’t have to practice living this way because there are constant distractions. Even waiting in line at a store or sitting in traffic, we have the ability to create consistent noise or stimulation through our smartphones.

It felt good to have a break from constantly thinking about what to post. As pathetic as that sounds, you know we all do it. When you see something beautiful, interesting, funny, sad…you think about taking a picture and posting it. You think about your caption and what you will use for a hashtag. Even though this is meant to be fun, and often times is, many parts of your day are marred by your future post. Your stillness, your ability to live in the moment is interrupted.

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I strongly encourage you to take on this challenge. Even if just for a week, a day. I felt better about myself because I was putting the time into reading and writing, two extremely important things in my life.

I felt more quite inside and at peace. A huge part of me wants to keep everything deactivated. However, I love this blog and I want to continue promoting it. (I also have another project I’m working on which I will be sharing with you soon!)

In some cases, social media is necessary, but it doesn’t have to take over your life. I hope my creativity continues to grow and I strive now to not let social media platforms take over my thoughts and my actions as I move forward.

Would you ever take a break from social media? Let me know in the comments below 🙂